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The NHL Returns: The Best Of The Rest

Now onto part 2 of the NHL return

Teams Close to the Power Rankings

Why didn’t {insert team name here} make it Herm? Here’s why

Nashville- Pekka Rinne is the man, but Suter’s gone, they looked mediocre in their playoff loss, and oh Ryan Suter’s gone

Washington and Florida- I think Washington won’t be as off as they were in the first half of last year. They were impressive in beating Boston in 7 and in their playoff loss to the Rangers. However, inconsistency aside Alex Semin is gone, and Ovechkin needs to prove he can go back to a superstar elite player, not just a very good one. Also, can Braden Holtby finally solidify the #1 goaltending spot on this team after an impressive playoffs? As for Flordia, they were great overachievers and probably should’ve beaten the Devs in the first round, but I’m not too sure they can win the division again. Tampa Bay and Carolina should provide stiff competition for both

Ottawa- Gigantic overachieving year for them last season after missing the playoffs in 2011. I’m not even saying they can’t have the same success (8th seed). I’m just saying the 10 teams I have listed are just plain old better than the Sens.

San Jose and Phoenix- The Yotes were able to convince Shane Doan to stay with the only franchise he’s ever played for and Mike Smith was fantastic last year. Any team with Paul Bissonnette I’m a fan of (@BizNasty2point0 on twitter…I recommend you follow). Can they repeat last year’s success? The question’s too hard to answer and that’s why they’re out of my top 10. The Sharks could’ve missed the playoffs last year, Joe Thornton is up there in age, and their window of opportunity to be a major player is just about done I feel (ignore my Canucks comment about the aforementioned “window of opportunity”, it’s been a decade plus for the Sharks). Also both teams have to play against each other, and the Ducks and Stars should be better and by the way there’s this team from LA they also have to play.

One Team (Maybe 2) to Watch in each Division

Atlantic- Islanders: The other 4 are playoff teams but the Islanders have had years of horrible records and high draft picks. It’s not out of the question for them to be decent. They have to be eventually….right? Bklyn 2015!!!!!!!!!!

Northeast- Buffalo: It seems Ryan Miller alone can’t carry the Sabres on his back as last year they were on the outside looking in, but by only 3 points. Will Leino come close to living up that contract? If there’s another miserable year for him…can you say CBA compliance buyout possibility?

Southeast- Tampa and Carolina: Here’s your “maybe 2”; both these teams will be intriguing to watch. Carolina adds Semin from Washington and Stall from Pittsburgh. Tampa has Steven Stamkos, made it to the ECF in 2011 and they have a lot of talent including aging franchise stars St. Louis and Lecavalier. It wouldn’t shock me if one or both bounced back and made the playoffs.

Central- Detroit: Yes, they’re in the power rankings and I know I made it seemed like I have zero doubts about them making the playoffs; but I have a very small doubt. The central is so competitive (sorry Columbus Blue Jackets, I wasn’t talking to you, and you’re not interesting enough to be a team to watch for), teams in other western divisions are improving and Detroit finished 3rd in the central last year and only 1 point of 4th place Chicago. With a 48-50 game season, roster changes, and that division…anything’s possible

Northwest- Minnesota and Edmonton: Another “maybe 2” division; Minnesota won free agency by signing Parise and Suter to identical 13 year $98 million contracts (guess the owner was sleeping that day, I’m sure he would’ve said “Give them 5 years and not a day longer!”) After a fast start last year they missed the playoffs by a long shot, Zach and Ryan might be the stability they need to keep it going. As for Edmonton, when you have the #1 overall pick 3 years in a row and pick 3 NHL ready players in Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, and Yakupov you better start getting good in the 3rd year. These guys and other young players for Edmonton have been lighting it up at the World Juniors (USA Wins Gold! ‘Merica!) and in the AHL. Time to see if they can play on the big stage.

Pacific- Dallas stars: They have Jamie Benn, they signed Jagr and Ray Whitney, and they have hall of famer Joe Nieuwendyk running the show. This franchise made Texas (TEXAS?!?) care about hockey a little under a decade and a half ago and they’re poised to come back to playoff contention and get the guys in 10 gallon hats inside an ice hockey rink.

On a non-hockey note, how ‘bout my NEW YORK KNICKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That’s all
It’s been awhile, much love, @bherms87 on Twitter. Until next week….

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